Supporting a Suicidal Parent
Have you ever had one of the moments where you meet someone instantly and there’s just this awesome yet unsettling feeling of thinking you’ve met before, and you’re going to just get on very, VERY well? I mean, I guess I’ve only heard it when people have spoken about meeting their partners but I’ve not had that with a guy, I’ve had it with JESSIE.
I travelled from Kuala Lumpur to Penang where I was in hospital (see another blog) and then met up with friends I’d made in KL to take a boat to Langkawi together.
Sitting with Andy, he introduced me to a British girl who I assumed he’d met at the ferry terminal but who I found out later he’d known from a night out and who was actually joining our group – she was so friendly I thought she was a random stranger tagging along for the adventure.
Without this sounding like a star crossed, lesbian love story, as soon as I introduced myself, her great, outgoing vibes HIT ME IN THE FACE and I liked her immediately – probably because she was funny, friendly, interested and interesting and those kinds of people rock. We got talking and didn’t stop. We got close in Langkawi and after three days I felt like I’d known her for three years, taking a scooter to a theme park and realising it was actually full of extremely religious Islamic families and there we were in bikinis looking disrespectful as hell.
Like everyone I meet, I force myself – usually through embarrassment – to admit what kind of tablet I take every day. To reiterate, there’s no shame in taking Anti Depressants but it’s still a process I’m working through. Jessie was of course not judgemental in the slightest, seemingly interested in why I had decided to go on them and what had led me to that decision. I assumed from this that perhaps she was thinking about going on them and just didn’t feel comfortable sharing that – I’ve realised through many conversations, and also my own experiences secretly suffering from mental health problems, that it’s very common for people who are the most outgoing(let us not forever the incredible Robin Williams as an example) to actually be very depressed – and so I automatically thought Jessie was one of them and left it.
A few months later, Jessie messaged me saying she needed to speak to someone and then told me that she had something she’d barely confided in anyone before in. She told me that she could relate to my stories because she’s had to be a crutch for her mother who’s suffered from severe Depression.
“I was confused at first and didn’t really understand what was going on until she tried to commit suicide for the first time”
Jessie had received a message whilst travelling from her mother, telling her once again she wanted to end her life. It is Jessie who had to convince her mother not to do so. It is Jessie who has been the go between since she was a teenager between a mother who believed her husband struggled to understand her and a father who had tried to put Jessie’s mother in mental health institutions, only to be resented.
I was shocked when I found out, not least because Jessie’s mum has tried to end her life a numerous amount of times, but the pressure my friend has had to deal with for ten years. Situations are incomparable but bear resemblances in different forms, and as I tried to comfort her, I was taken back to earlier memories of being relied on by my own family when my father was ill. Memories of being the child to run to call the ambulance if Dad got sick, convince my Dad everything was ok when everything was NOT ok, tell my mum what to do, who to talk to, how to get through this. I was 13, 14, 17, 19 years old. It would happen frequently.
“I shouldn’t be the middle person between my Mum and Dad. I shouldn’t be the one to save my Mum’s life”
I had to hold back tears, because in neither situation is it fair for a child to parent their own parent. Roles should not be reversed but sometimes you can’t change the way a situation is.
I found it amazing that Jessie trusted me with a story so personal. We’d met and had hung out for only four days after all.
After we finished talking and she thanked me for listening, I asked her why she had opened up to me.
“Because I knew you would listen and I just felt like I could tell you and I haven’t felt like I could open up like that to anyone before I’m not sure if it’s because of our great connection or your own honesty”.
I was pretty honoured it has to be said. This is the reason I’ve been writing, talking, pushing my own boundaries and perhaps, unknowingly that of other people. Only through sharing our darkest moments can we find the hope in the form of light. We can only heal from wounds if we’re brave enough to open and clean them in the first place.
For anyone struggling with issues relating to this matter, please PLEASE phone Samaritans on 116 123 for free.
I love you Jess xx